Here we are–all of us, at the first station, every one of us condemed to death, just like Jesus who stood before Pilate. In that moment, death wasn’t something that happened to other people, it would be his fate within hours.
When any of us receive a death sentence from cancer, AIDS, violence or any other manner of bodily destruction, we struggle to brace ourselves in the certainty of our demise. We greive lost years and those whom we’ve loved. We wonder what would have been and stumble over our regrets and should-haves. We wonder how much it will hurt–we know the pain of living; we try to guess the agony of not existing.
We share many common experiences as human beings. But the one unifying experience is death. We will all come to this, one way or another, and however each one is delivered back into eternity– whether one languishes with terminal illness, or is cut down suddenly in a tragic accident, we will die.
I am going to die. You are going to die. You best friend will die, and your children–and your parents, and brothers and sisters. None escape.
This eventuallity settles in the backs of our minds, and we go on with the business of living.
In the relief of the first station at the Grotto, Pointius Pilate looks on, symbolically washing his hands as Jesus contemplates his fate. Christ’s hands are bound and rest at his belly. The rope thus resembles an unbilicus. By being born, we are bound to die.
The Roman numeral I numbers this station. I–it is the self, alone, isolated, disconnected.And at this station, is the first chakra–our energetic root, which is also concerned with survival. We arrive at this dense consciousness confused, afraid, seemingly alone.
The lesson around the first station isn’t necessarily, as I see it, about the reality of death , but about the pervasive fear around our existence. It’s about recognising the Self, the “I”, about percieving our distinctness, our seperateness. The first station isn’t a linear starting point either, but an underlying issue with which we grapple throughout life. The ‘I’ underpins our illusion of separation. In our perceived separation from the All, from Spirit, from God, we feel vulernable and alone, and move about our new existence in a wild, instinctual dance of self-preservation.
This is an exhausting way to live day to day. There’s a momentum to keep up, and the belly to fill and there’s the mind to occupy. One must not only feed the organism, but that which animates the organism. We need a reason to live, a need which further differentieates us, but also roots us.
Toward this end, each of us will take up her own cross.